interview

The origins of Les Trafiquants d’Art

Fred Jourdain / Martin Parrot

Les Trafiquants d’Art is a custom picture frame shop and art gallery that sells Fred’s creations as well as works from other artists. Above all, it allows Fred to distance himself from the day-to-day management of his sales and printing so he can spend more time creating. Let’s take a look inside the world of this artist/entrepreneur.

Where did the idea for your store come from?

You know, it’s nice to create but people need to be able to see your work. Before social media came along, the best way for me to exhibit my art was in cafés and bars. That’s how I was able to live off my illustrations for so many years.

 

Back then, I was getting my works printed in commercial shops and it didn’t take long for me to realize the quality wasn’t great. I wanted the best colours and I wanted my prints to withstand time and resist to lighting.

 

So I started researching different types of printers, inks and papers. Eventually, I got a bank loan to buy a top-of-the-line printer and a bunch of other gear. I think I was 19 or 20 at the time and I’ve never regretted that investment. It really helped me stand out by offering a great quality print at a fair price.


Soon after, my exhibitions started picking up so I began offering my clients the option to buy my illustrations with a frame. I dealt with a number of framers for several years. Everything was going well and it was convenient but it also meant a lot of management on my part. And so while I was able to live off my art, I virtually had no time left for drawing.

 

Were you expecting your work to sell that much?

 

Well, I never had a master plan. I just wanted to do the best that I could on every level - drawing, printing, framing… I wanted to improve and surprise myself but also showcase my work so I could make a living off of it without it becoming a job in the usual sense of the word.

 

When I first started out, I’d divide my year in several blocks. I had a period where I did contracts for different clients: graphic design, photography, children’s illustrations and cover art for albums. Another period was set aside for personal projects like my series of portraits and the last period was where I toured and did exhibitions. That’s what my first few years of work looked like until I dropped everything and worked on The Blue Dragon for about two years.


After I finished The Blue Dragon, I started exhibiting my work again. I spent a lot of time in Montreal because I was already well-known in Quebec City and I wanted to see what the response would be like over there. I started to offer works in larger formats, canvas prints and high-end reproductions. Sure enough, most of my time went towards managing my website, inventory, organizing exhibitions, mailing and framing instead of creating.


And then along came Virgile?


Yeah, Virgile was an old friend and we’d often go out for beers. I remember at one point, I was completely overloaded with work and he offered to give me a hand. And when he’d help me out, he’d often ask me questions about the business, my suppliers and the equipment - he was curious and interested. We eventually started talking about him becoming a framer and making business out of it. We thought about it a lot and after doing the math, it made sense to both of us and we were really motivated to start our business.

 

It took some time to fine tune our business plan, raise enough cash and find the perfect location. We absolutely wanted it to be in Quebec City’s Limoilou neighbourhood. But funny enough, two years to the day we had started talking about our idea, we opened shop right in the heart of Limoilou.


How’s business?

 

Well, we’ve been open since June 1st, 2017 and everything has been above and beyond our expectations. We didn’t want to be some pretentious art gallery - we wanted to offer a quality service at a fair price. And we also wanted to cater to artists so they could take advantage of my printing expertise and Virgile’s framing skills. So far, I can safely say the response has been thrilling.

 

Before we opened, Virgile spent a lot of time in Montreal with a truly exceptional framer I know. In fact, we’d first discussed our business idea with him and he had proposed to become Virgile’s mentor - talk about a great opportunity! And on top of that, I’ve never had such beautiful frames to showcase my work in. Right now, the possibilities are endless and I know everything is being done well because Virgile is very skillful.


So do you finally have more time to create?

For the past few months, I’ve gone back to studying drawing techniques. I am exploring new mediums and I’m going back to the basics. I’ve started creating again and I’m soon going to revisit projects I’d left on the back-burner. It’s really a great period for me right now.

credits

Photos: Anthony Jourdain, Catherine Côté, Fred Jourdain, Martin Poulin, Martin Côté

Translation from french : Peter Tardif

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 © Affranchi - The contents of this publication may not be reproduced without the author's consent



Interview

The origins of Les Trafiquants d’Art

Fred Jourdain / Martin Parrot

Les Trafiquants d’Art is a custom picture frame shop and art gallery that sells Fred’s creations as well as works from other artists. Above all, it allows Fred to distance himself from the day-to-day management of his sales and printing so he can spend more time creating. Let’s take a look inside the world of this artist/entrepreneur.

Where did the idea for your store come from?

You know, it’s nice to create but people need to be able to see your work. Before social media came along, the best way for me to exhibit my art was in cafés and bars. That’s how I was able to live off my illustrations for so many years.

 

Back then, I was getting my works printed in commercial shops and it didn’t take long for me to realize the quality wasn’t great. I wanted the best colours and I wanted my prints to withstand time and resist to lighting. So I started researching different types of printers, inks and papers.

 

Eventually, I got a bank loan to buy a top-of-the-line printer and a bunch of other gear. I think I was 19 or 20 at the time and I’ve never regretted that investment. It really helped me stand out by offering a great quality print at a fair price.

Soon after, my exhibitions started picking up so I began offering my clients the option to buy my illustrations with a frame. I dealt with a number of framers for several years. Everything was going well and it was convenient but it also meant a lot of management on my part. And so while I was able to live off my art, I virtually had no time left for drawing.

 

Were you expecting your work to sell that much?

 

Well, I never had a master plan. I just wanted to do the best that I could on every level - drawing, printing, framing… I wanted to improve and surprise myself but also showcase my work so I could make a living off of it without it becoming a job in the usual sense of the word.

 

When I first started out, I’d divide my year in several blocks. I had a period where I did contracts for different clients: graphic design, photography, children’s illustrations and cover art for albums. Another period was set aside for personal projects like my series of portraits and the last period was where I toured and did exhibitions. That’s what my first few years of work looked like until I dropped everything and worked on The Blue Dragon for about two years.

After I finished The Blue Dragon, I started exhibiting my work again. I spent a lot of time in Montreal because I was already well-known in Quebec City and I wanted to see what the response would be like over there. I started to offer works in larger formats, canvas prints and high-end reproductions. Sure enough, most of my time went towards managing my website, inventory, organizing exhibitions, mailing and framing instead of creating.

And then along came Virgile?


Yeah, Virgile was an old friend and we’d often go out for beers. I remember at one point, I was completely overloaded with work and he offered to give me a hand. And when he’d help me out, he’d often ask me questions about the business, my suppliers and the equipment - he was curious and interested. We eventually started talking about him becoming a framer and making business out of it. We thought about it a lot and after doing the math, it made sense to both of us and we were really motivated to start our business.

 

It took some time to fine tune our business plan, raise enough cash and find the perfect location. We absolutely wanted it to be in Quebec City’s Limoilou neighbourhood. But funny enough, two years to the day we had started talking about our idea, we opened shop right in the heart of Limoilou.

How’s business?

 

Well, we’ve been open since June 1st, 2017 and everything has been above and beyond our expectations. We didn’t want to be some pretentious art gallery - we wanted to offer a quality service at a fair price. And we also wanted to cater to artists so they could take advantage of my printing expertise and Virgile’s framing skills. So far, I can safely say the response has been thrilling.

 

Before we opened, Virgile spent a lot of time in Montreal with a truly exceptional framer I know. In fact, we’d first discussed our business idea with him and he had proposed to become Virgile’s mentor - talk about a great opportunity! And on top of that, I’ve never had such beautiful frames to showcase my work in. Right now, the possibilities are endless and I know everything is being done well because Virgile is very skillful.

So do you finally have more time to create?

For the past few months, I’ve gone back to studying drawing techniques. I am exploring new mediums and I’m going back to the basics. I’ve started creating again and I’m soon going to revisit projects I’d left on the back-burner. It’s really a great period for me right now.

credits

Photos: Anthony Jourdain, Catherine Côté, Fred Jourdain, Martin Poulin, Martin Côté

Translation from french : Peter Tardif

Share this

 

 © Affranchi - The contents of this publication may not be reproduced without the author's consent